Earlier today I went on chesstempo.com to do some chess tactics training. The 3rd chess tactics puzzle I faced was the one in the diagram below. See if you can find the solution:
White to play and win
Read down for the solution.
To my amazement, the majority of people trying to solve this chess puzzle gave a wrong solution. I could see on the statistics of this chess tactics puzzle that many people tried a move like Ne5? Don’t guess solutions to chess puzzles. Try to solve the puzzle and if you can’t solve it – then give up and look at the answer.
In my article about some typical training mistakes, I explained why you shouldn’t guess the solutions to tactical puzzles – you can read the article by clicking this link http://chess-skills.com/chess-tactics/chess-tactics-the-big-training-mistake
The simple solution to this chess tactics puzzle
The move is the simple Nxb2. If you saw this straight-forward capture quickly then you should be congratulated for following the logical process of first finding all the simple captures and evaluating them properly.
If you found the answer – how long did it take you to find it? And if you found the correct move, how long did it take before you trusted that your move is correct? Did you for a moment also believe this is too easy and then started looking for something more complicated?
I find it fascinating how we humans can sometimes be so confident about a complicated combination and then we still feel unsure about a move as simple as Nxb2! However, in a real game you would probably find this move easily.
The fact that this chess tactics puzzle is presented as a problem can subconsciously make us think that the solution is probably not very easy. I would be interested to hear the opinion of other players as to why this sometime happens. Feel free to tell us in the comments.
I should add some advice to this article. How do one go about to avoid such oversights?
When you are about to do a chess tactics puzzle, first get some general information from the position – ie. find all the threats, checks and captures (the basic interaction between all the pieces). Do a quick material comparison to realise whether there is a material imbalance between the 2 sides.
Important advice on solving chess tactics puzzles:
Find all the forcing candidate moves before you start calculating anything!
A forcing candidate move is a move that forces a certain response. Such moves include 1) all the moves that check the enemy king, 2) all the moves that capture something and 3) all the moves that threaten something.
Finding all the candidate moves is a very important step and it is something you should do not only when solving puzzles but also in a real game. If you follow this approach it will help your calculation skills to improve quite dramatically. This is the correct approach to training tactics and will help you improve the thinking process which you should follow in your games too.